Well, despite our best efforts and promise to continually update our blog, we seem to have fallen quite behind! We’ll just say that it’s because the power has been going out on a regular basis here (not good for internet connections or A/C in 90+ degree heat!).
First, the most important news: we have been cleared to go back into the school! We don’t actually have any visa paperwork, but we’ve been assured that we can be back with the kiddos. It goes without saying that this makes us incredibly happy!
Now, what else have we been up to the past week or so?
We went hiking. We hiked around the bottom part of Kilimanjaro through small villages, the jungle and lots of banana trees. We were accompanied by another volunteer, a few guests and our driver, Innocent. We crossed bridges of questionable structural integrity that would have had my travel insurance company (and mother) weeping. We made new friends. We were followed by a drunk villager. We walked through a field of sunflowers. We attempted to talk to local kids. We were passed by a man in a pink down coat driving a motorcycle. We also came across a gorgeous church built by the Germans smack dab in the middle of the jungle. Random. Joost also had the opportunity to hike to the first base camp on Kili! I was too poor, so I held down the fort back here at the hotel.
We painted a mural on the outside of the school. We now finally have the school name on the school!
We’ve been to the markets (many times). We felt quite chuffed after miming and negotiating our way through a successful ndizi (banana) purchase all by ourselves! My least favorite part of the markets is most certainly the meat section, where slabs of cow and goat hang from the ceiling, pools of blood collect on the ground and (according to another volunteer), the head of a cow, freshly butchered, was once spotted on one of the tables. My favorite part is the avocados, which are at least three times bigger than the ones we get in the states!
We started a new project: making a library! We are SO excited for this! We have started the process of converting the old teachers’ lounge into a library for the kids. The first step of the project consisted of sorting through suitcases, bags, boxes and shelves full of everything you can imagine: endless piles of crayons, colored pencils and pens, a bag of old buttons and magnets (including a ’60 and still swingin!’ button and a set of magnets for a pizza joint in Illinois), green furry bunny ears, art projects, games and flashcards. We have also started getting quotes on furniture and shelves, which we will be able to purchase for the school thanks to a generous grant from Joost’s church. We hope to make it a space where the kids can chill, read and do arts & crafts! The theme is ‘Reading can take you to new places!’ Perhaps we have overestimated our artistic abilities, but the plan is to paint a big world map on the wall and small world landmarks around the room.
We’ve been running. Our last run (8.5 miles!) took us on a dusty, winding, UPHILL road, through a village and past a giant termite hill that looked like a big penis on the horizon (<–inappropriate for the blog? Oh well). We’ve continued to struggle with the heat, but we are enjoying the scenery!
And last, but certainly not least, we celebrated Joost’s birthday! The celebration included Tanzanian public transportation (unpleasant), furniture shopping, hanging out at a cafe drinking lattes and banana smoothies and eating hummus, a torrential downpour, sitting in the dark at the restaurant when the power went off, and pizza and beer with the two other volunteers.